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Victorian Gender Relations - Book Report/Review Example

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A paper "Victorian Gender Relations" claims that Indeed, as Wilson explains in The World of Charles Dickens, Victorian society had much the same expectations of women as it did of children; both were expected to be seen but not heard (109-110)…
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Victorian Gender Relations
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Victorian Gender Relations

Download file to see previous pages... By delving into the respective authors' portraiture and presentation of Miss Havisham, Estelle and Elizabeth and Jane Bennet, this research will show that, contrary to contemporary expectations and stereotypical perceptions of the Victorian world, both Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice boast a varied array of female characters. The fact that the majority of these characters hardly subscribes to the stereotypical image of the submissive and passive Victorian female shreds of evidence the fact that Victorian social expectations were at odds with the Victorian social reality, on the one hand, and that both Dickens and Austen were writing about a world in transition, on the other.
Dickens' Miss Havisham initially comes across as the victim of male disregard; in other words, she is what she is because of a male's action. To some extent, this is undeniably true but more importantly, her character develops in reaction to Compeyson's actions and her subsequent determination to prevent a repetition. From twenty minutes after nine on the morning of her wedding day until her death, Miss Havisham lives in a timeless world in which her moment of greatest emotional pain is prolonged indefinitely and becomes one of the two purposes of her existence. The other is revenge on the male sex, a revenge which is accomplished by raising Estella to be a cold-hearted seductress of men's hearts. Miss Havisham's self-imprisonment in Satis House, with every detail of the house, its furnishings, her attire, and the wedding preparations frozen in time, effectively removes her from any possibility of ever being emotionally traumatized again, or so she would like to believe. She inhabits a world that does not change, either physically or spiritually, although her wedding dress, the food, and her own beauty have become subject to the ravages of time. Miss Havisham's seclusion has divorced her from "a thousand natural and healing influences" (Dickens, 411). Pip's commentary on Miss Havisham, as he relates his final discussion with her before her fatal accident, is important:
"And could I look upon her without compassion, seeing her punishment in the ruin she was, in her profound unfitness for this earth on which she was placed, in the vanity of sorrow which had become a master mania, like the vanity of penitence, the vanity of remorse, the vanity of unworthiness, and other monstrous vanities that have been curses in this world" (411) Miss Havisham is advised by Pip to do whatever she can in the future to restore Estella to her "right nature." She agrees but almost immediately turns the conversation back to herself and, though admitting she has damaged Estella emotionally, demands compassion and understanding from Pip, who, she believes, is unaware of her own suffering at the hands of Compeyson. Pip's resentment of her is evident in this final conversation, leading one critic to describe Pip's struggle with the burning woman as a symbolic rape designed to satisfy Pip's desire for revenge on all of the hateful women at whose hands he has suffered (Hartog, 259-60). But the most significant aspect of this scene is that Miss Havisham is made human once again because of Pip's innocence, suffering, and faithfulness.  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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